The MINI was actually launched as the Austin Seven and Morris Mini Minor in 1959. The Checkmate was a 1990 Rover Limited Edition, as was the Park Lane in 1987. Now that we’re caught up on our history, it will be easier to understand the three new “special edition” Minis arriving in 2006: the MINI One Seven, MINI Cooper Park Lane and MINI Cooper S Checkmate.
We put “special editions” in quotes because these are largely cosmetic changes and may be available in the U.S. as nothing more than appearance options or package items.
New colors headed for the States are Solar Red, Space Blue and Royal Grey and they will replace Jet Black, Electric Blue and Solid Gold. That’s right…no more black, can you imagine that? But what may stand out to sharp MINI observers with the 2006 models is the swooping bonnet stripe, which looks like a wide “U”.
With the MINI Cooper One Seven, you’re looking at Solar Red metallic paint, 15” Delta spoke alloy wheels and special “Seven” interior trim and decals. The MINI Cooper Park Lane goes upscale with Royal Grey metallic paint, a silver roof, matching silver bonnet stripe, 16” Bridge spoke alloys, and a nifty two-tone sports steering wheel (leather, of course). And on the MINI Cooper Checkmate, you get Space Blue metallic, checkered flag decals and 17” Flame spoke alloys, silver bonnet stripe and a host of options, standard.
The bottom line? Options like these have a way of making a left hand turn before reaching the U.S., much like the two-spoke steering wheel and the electric folding mirror (and now, the color black!) So, what will be available as dealer options, aftermarket options or factory options is, at least where the MINI is concerned, anybody’s guess. If you can get them, they will certainly mark your MINI as a 2006 model, but it’s clearly a stall (Oops! Bad word choice there…) until we start seeing the real changes in 2007. For more on that, see “The Skinny On The Next MINI.”
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